Driving with Excess Alcohol

Drink Driving Legislation

Driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle on a road or public place with alcohol over the prescribed limit is a criminal offence under section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.This offence can only be dealt with in the Magistrates Court although there is the possibility of the offence being committed to Crown Court if linked with more serious matters destined for the Crown Court. If so the offence will only be disposed of at Crown Court if there is a guilty plea. If a not guilty plea is entered then the offence is remitted back to the Magistrates Court for trial.

Definition of Driving or Attempting to Drive

The charge must say one or the other. It cannot allege both. Driving  means using to a substantial degree the controls of the motor vehicle to direct the movement and direction of the vehicle. Attempting to start a vehicle even if it did not move has been held to be attempting to drive.

Definition of Motor Vehicle

This means a mechanically controlled vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads e.g. cars and motor bikes. The test is based upon the view of the reasonable person. If that view would be that the vehicle was intended to be used on roads then it falls within the definition.

Definition of Road or Public Place

A road can be any highway, footpath, bridleway or bridge and any other road to which the public have access. A public place means anywhere where the public have access e.g. a pub car park.

Definition of Over the Prescribed Limit

The prescribed limits of alcohol are 35mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood and 107mg of alcohol in 100ml of urine. If driving above these limits then the offence has been committed. However a prosecution is unlikely to result if the lowest reading in breath is less than 40mg.

The Tests

If a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that a driver has been drinking then he can require a breath test. Frequently a preliminary breath test is taken at the scene.

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For more information on:

  • Possible Defences
  • Sentencing
  • Special Reasons